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Have you ever worried about a release?
I've never actually feared an album release. I imagine it doing well, but even if it doesn't, the disappointment isn't that big because I'm happy with it. If I feel good, then it's ok. I just want to evolve as an artist every time I put something out and have people notice that.

Everything You Wanted features several older songs — The Truth IsSolo2nd Thots,All I Wanna Do, Me Like Yuh and Aquaman — what made you include them?
Those songs sound different when you just hear them as a single, as opposed to when you hear them as a body of work. It just depended on whether it made sense for the album or not, and (a track like) Solo fits the album perfectly. Since there's no executive or label deciding which tracks to put on the album, if I like the song, I put it on.

After the hip hop of Worldwide, this album is a return to R& this where you feel most comfortable?
I don't know...I've only been making music for five years now and I'm learning new things about myself as an artist and a person every day. Last year I felt this fire in me to show people that I could rap in Korean, that I could make a good hip hop album, and this year I wanted to do stuff in English but I had these tracks in Korean, so I was like, why don't I make a bilingual album. I'm experimenting to see what people like and what I like. I think my next project is going to be something completely different, so I'm excited to start working on that.

There are very distinct sides to your personality in your work. Which feels more akin to the everyday you?
In general, when you're talking about life, I'm just a regular guy, I just ate a Shake Shack burger, like, now I need to do 100 sit-ups. But I've always been sort of rebellious, when someone says: "You have to do this", it never makes sense for me to do it. Like, why can't a K-Pop person swear, why can't they have half-naked ladies in a music's just a music video, why not? I'm a nice guy when it comes to daily life, but when it comes to society and how people think things should be a certain way, I have to challenge those invisible rules.

AOMG is home to success stories like Gray and Loco, what do you look for when you sign someone?
I look at them overall — their music, what they talk about, how they perform, their image and how they are as a person. Because if we're going to be together as a label and a crew for a long time, relationship wise it's gotta make sense. They can be the greatest rapper in the world but if they're an asshole I don't want to work with them, they don't have to be at AOMG.

What do you want to give artists, other than a creative environment, that other labels won't or can't?
Freedom! I want to be able to bring what they have in their minds to life as opposed to what other labels do — they have a certain vision, a certain path and artists may not be able to do what they want, they might be doing music and shows but they might be miserable because it's not what they envisioned. I want all my artists to be successful, even if they're more successful than me. I want their contracts to be good, I want their families to be happy. I don't look at them as people who make money for a company, it's a brotherhood.

Shows like SMTM bring out the same argument every year, that it's destroying the underground or that hip hop has lost its edge — what's your view? 
Hip hop is getting very over-saturated and the music is getting cliched because there are so many rappers and shows, and Korea is so small that everyone influences each other. It definitely motivates me to be on top of my game because I don't want to get lost in this over-saturation. I'm constantly trying to show different sides so people don't get sick of me. I think about the future a lot. Right now it's (hip hop) a trend, in a couple years something else might be the trend and what's going to happen to people like me? I don't want to be around for a couple of years and fade away, so I think about how AOMG can last, not just in Korea, but worldwide.

In hindsight, what would you have told yourself when you moved back to Seattle?
I don't know, that's a hard question. I don't regret anything, the good or the bad because it's all gotten me to this point. The thing I would change is back when I was 5 and my mom made me do piano lessons and I hated it. I distinctly remember telling her I wanted to quit and she said, "You'll regret this when you're older," and I was like, I swear to god I won't. And now I regret it. If I had played the piano this whole time I would be so much better (as an artist) now.

It's not too late...
I tried to learn a couple of years ago but I get so distracted. I think I have ADHD, I can't focus.

You're among many who have had a tough run in the Korean music industry, and some artists have admitted their mental health has suffered. Did you ever feel like you were at that point?
Nah, I just drink a lot. But even back when all the MySpace stuff happened and I got cut from the company, I tried to think of it as the next chapter in my life. Even if I'm not being a singer in Korea, my life isn't over. I knew it was gonna be hard but I stayed positive, and after coming back from that what do you fear? I'm not attached to the money and fame, I can live without that. I feel thankful that I can do what I want and provide opportunities for other artists, that's what keeps me going.

The side of fame where people always want something from you, are you wary or bothered by it?
People want to have a friend who knows you and can get to you, people want to make money off you...I mean, people like G-Dragon or Justin Bieber, they're gonna have that twenty times worse than me, I can't complain. Sometimes I do, like that I'm tired or whatever, but at the end of the day, everything I do is my decision. I have no one to blame but me. I'm grateful for my opportunities, I feed a lot of mouths and I thank God I can do that.

Does knowing this help ground you?
Of course. And I am still my own harshest critic. Like, if someone says, "Jay, you're the best," I'm like, nah, not really. If you keep putting yourself on a pedestal and you get knocked down, you're not going to know where to go later on.

You've admitted before that you prefer to use only snippets of your life as lyrics, but would you ever delve deep and 100% use your own life as material?
It depends. Right now, for me as an artist, I'm not comfortable putting myself out there 100%. There's insecurities, and I like having stuff I keep to myself, it makes me feel like a person. Later on you never know, after eight or nine albums I might run out of stuff to talk about. Then I might reach in and say, hey, this is my life, guys.